(Reuters) - Five talking-points from the Premier League weekend after Manchester United extended their winning run against Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool were made to work hard for their win at Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal losing at West Ham United.
At the final whistle, two Manchester United players - Ashley Young and Ander Herrera - went straight to thank goalkeeper David De Gea, who pulled off series of saves to help deliver interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sixth straight win.
The Spanish shot-stopper again proved his worth in the 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday after he made 11 second-half saves to keep United’s top four challenge alive.
De Gea’s United contract expires at the end of next season and team mate Jesse Lingard hopes the 28-year-old extends his stay at Old Trafford.
“He’s one of the best keepers in the world, if not the best,” Lingard told reporters. “We want him to stay. Having a keeper like that gives you extra confidence.”
Liverpool supporters have grown accustomed to Juergen Klopp’s men blowing teams away this season but the 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion highlighted a potential title-winning trait of grinding out results.
The defensive unit, led centre back Virgil van Dijk, have now recorded 13 clean sheets this season and have conceded more than once in one of their 22 matches.
An unexpected gift of an 11-day fixture gap will also benefit Klopp, who believes the squad can recharge their batteries before they cope with the league title charge and the Champions League campaign next month.
“The break that we are getting at the end of January is going to be 100 percent helpful for the boys with injuries,” he told the Liverpool Echo. “I hope that Dejan (Lovren) and Joe (Gomez) make big steps to come forward.”
Basement club Huddersfield Town ended their eight-match losing streak in the league with a goalless draw at Cardiff City but sterner tests are ahead as they face Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in three of their next four games.
Manager David Wagner was left frustrated over a refereeing decision that he believes “make tables and seasons” after the Terriers were denied a penalty with 14 minutes to go.
Teams have been eight points adrift of safety at this stage and survived before in the competition but Huddersfield will need to improve on their scoring tally of 13 goals in 22 matches to remain in the top-flight for another year.
EMERY-OZIL IMPASSE SEES ARSENAL STRUGGLE
Arsenal coach Unai Emery seems to be sending a message to the club’s highest-paid player Mesut Ozil, having started the playmaker in only two away games in all competitions since September.
While Ozil may not have the positional discipline to start for Emery on a regular basis, it was baffling to see the German dropped from the 18-man matchday squad as Arsenal suffered a 1-0 defeat by West Ham on Saturday.
“I decided the players I think are the best for this match,” Emery told reporters. “We win with him, we lose with him. I think it is not one player (which means) we can’t win or lose.”
With Arsenal now six points behind fourth-place Chelsea, Emery may not have the luxury to leave out one of his most influential attackers on tactical grounds.
Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino’s stretched squad may face their biggest test over the coming weeks after striker Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko picked up injuries in a 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday.
Kane has suffered enough problems with his ankle ligaments in recent years to flag a concern when he picked up a knock in the closing moments of the match at Wembley, while midfielder Sissoko limped off with a groin issue in the first half.
With Son Heung-min leaving the squad to join South Korea for the Asian Cup, Tottenham’s attacking options on the bench will need to step up when they face Fulham in the league before their League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge